In Virginia, as in most states, auto insurance is legally required for (almost) every vehicle on the road. A police officer can ask to see proof of insurance during a routine traffic stop. You'll definitely need your insurance card in the event of an accident. Keep reading to find out what kind of insurance you need, any optional extra coverage you might want, and some tips and tricks to keep your rates low in the Old Dominion state.

Minimum Coverage Amounts

Whenever you get behind the wheel in Virginia, you must have coverage for bodily injuries and property damage for both liability and uninsured motorists. The coverage minimums in Virginia are:

  • $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury liability
  • $20,000 in property damage liability
  • $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured motorist bodily injury
  • $20,000 in uninsured motorist property damage

With this minimum coverage in place, your insurance policy pays the other driver up to the listed amount if you caused the accident. It also kicks in if you get hit by someone without insurance.

Virginia does offer the option to drive uninsured for a $500 annual fee, but that leaves a driver personally liable for any damage during an accident. Even if you are not at fault, the legal costs involved in proving it can be extensive. In general, auto insurance is highly recommended since the uninsured motorist fee is no substitute for insurance.

Optional Insurance Add-Ons

The legal minimum ensures that any accident you cause will not leave the other driver footing the bill for repairs to their vehicle or rehabilitation costs. But minimum coverage doesn't cover any repairs to your car or help with your medical bills. Here are a few types of coverage you might like to add, so an accident doesn't leave you without wheels.

  • Collision: If you are in an accident, collision kicks in to repair your car, up to the maximum value of the vehicle.
  • Comprehensive: Physical damage can happen, even without a crash. If your car is damaged in a parking lot, a tree branch falls on the hood, or hail breaks a window, comprehensive insurance will pay for the damage. Comprehensive policies cover physical damage to your car that happens outside of an accident.
  • Medical Expense: If you get hurt during an accident, your health insurance might pay for most of the cost involved in recovery - but what about your out-of-pocket expenses? If you have a high deductible or expensive co-pays, this add-on can be helpful.
  • Emergency Roadside Assistance: Anyone can hit a pothole and get a flat tire. Hopefully, you have a spare in the trunk and the skills you need to install it, but if not, roadside assistance can come in handy. This optional benefit is usually very inexpensive.
  • Lost Income Benefits: If you're injured in an accident, your ability to work may be affected. In Virginia, you can purchase the lost income benefit to get up to $100 per week for an entire year in case you lose your job or face an extended recovery time.

Vehicle Theft is on the Rise in VA

Comprehensive car insurance protects you when your car gets stolen. Whether the thieves are a group of teens joyriding or a professional group headed straight for the chop shop, you'll want coverage if your car turns up missing. Here are a few stats from the Virginia state police that might surprise you:

  • Theft offenses rose by 4% between 2016-2017
  • The total value of stolen vehicles increased by nearly 6%
  • Auto thefts are most frequent between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m.

With more theft happening, and more expensive cars getting taken, comprehensive insurance might be a good idea.

How the Rates Stack Up

According to a recent report in Business Insider, the average American spends $125 per month, or $1,503 per year, on car insurance. That's a big jump from 2014 when the average cost was $907.38 annually. For Virginians, the prices have stayed pretty low. In fact, this state ranks right near the top for cheapest car insurance in the nation with an average price of $93 per month or $1,114 per year. Ohio is the very leasy expensive at $77, and both are a well below the $213 of Michigan or $210 of West Virginia.

But while Virginia has low insurance rates, that doesn't mean they're available to every driver. A low credit score can drive up your premium and so can your age, driving record, average number of daily miles, and the value of your car. Your roommate's driving record might even affect your premiums. So, to get the best rates on your Virginia auto insurance policy, be sure to ask about:

  • Senior discounts or AARP rebates
  • Bundling several policies
  • Anti-theft devices and airbags
  • Safe driving discounts
  • Low-mileage plans
  • Good student discounts

To get the very lowest price on your auto insurance policy, you should get multiple quotes for car insurance in Virginia, compare coverage, and ask about possible discounts. If your agent doesn't know that you have a 4.0 GPA, they can't give you a discount for being a good student. If they don't know about the LoJack system you just installed, you don't get credit for that, either. Also, be sure to compare fee schedules for services not included in your premium. Some agencies charge copying, mailing, and filing fees on top. A few quick questions may shave dollars off your monthly bill.